Russell Westbrook initially approached the Oklahoma City Thunder about a possible trade following the team's first-round loss in the 2019 postseason, according to the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Thursday that OKC dealt Westbrook to the Houston Rockets in exchange for nine-time All-Star Chris Paul, two future first-round picks (2024 and 2026) and a pair of pick swaps (2021 and 2025).
Trade rumors involving Westbrook did not surface until Oklahoma City traded six-time All-Star Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers last week. With a rebuild on the horizon, Westbrook and his agent, Thad Foucher, met with the Thunder to discuss the 2016-17 NBA MVP's future, per Wojnarowski.
That apparently wasn't the first time the topic of a trade had come up, though.
Westbrook helped the organization usher in a new era as it moved to OKC, spending his first 11 years in a Thunder uniform after being taken fourth overall in in 2008. He played a vital role in the franchise reaching playoffs in nine of the last 10 seasons, making a trip to the NBA Finals in 2012 in the process.
Even as stars like James Harden and Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City, Westbrook made it clear that he had no intentions of going anywhere. One year after Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors, Westbrook inked a five-year, $206.8 million extension with the Thunder in September 2017.
Upon signing his extension, Westbrook stressed his loyalty to OKC, h/t ESPN's Royce Young:
"There's nowhere else I would rather be than Oklahoma City. You guys have basically raised me. I've been here since I was 18, 19 years old. You guys did nothing but great things for me. Through the good and the bad, you guys supported me through it all, and I appreciate it. Definitely when I had the opportunity to be able to be loyal to you guys, that's the No. 1 option.
"Loyalty is something that I stand by."
But with the organization headed in a different direction after back-to-back first-round exits, the time has come for the two sides to go their separate ways.
Westbrook is owed $124.1 million over the next three seasons and holds a $47.1 million player option for the 2022-23 season.